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Showing posts from March, 2013

2013 Lambing Notebook - Installment #5

When do you call the vet?!

Part of raising sheep at a commercial scale is learning when you need to call the vet - and when you need to do things on your own.  This applies (perhaps even more so) even when you're married to your vet - as I am!

Last Sunday, we held our annual Pasture Lambing Workshop.  We hosted around 15 new and aspiring shepherds at the ranch and provided an overview of our lambing system.  We also offered hands-on experience in marking lambs (which involves ear-tagging, docking and castrating, and paint-marking each lamb), as well as hand-on experience in building temporary electric fence and moving ewes and lambs onto fresh grass.  As if on cue, one of our ewes was in labor when we arrived at the ranch at 9:30 a.m.  As we were wrapping up the workshop around noon, she had still not delivered her lambs.  Before our students departed, I demonstrated the method I use for assisting a ewe in delivering lambs.  This particular ewe needed help delivering twins.  She p…

2013 Lambing Notebook - Installment #4

During Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, we experienced our first stormy weather during this year's lambing season.  We received just over a half inch of rain, and we had lots of wind.  I had put the ewes in a paddock which offered lots of shelter, and the ewes and lambs made it through the stormy weather just fine.

As I was making my early morning check of the sheep, however, I realized that both guardian dogs (Buck and Reno) were missing.  We'd had a short section of fence blow down, so I wasn't too surprised that they were out.  As the morning went on, however, their continued absence was concerning - usually they stay close by and are anxious to get back with their sheep.  I finally found them at a neighboring property just before 10 a.m.  They were both happy to see me and to be back with the ewes.

Yesterday evening, after I assisted a ewe in delivering a large single lamb, a neighbor on Shanley Hill called me over to our fence to ask about the dogs being out.  S…

2013 Lambing Notebook - Installment #3

Zen and the Art of Sheepherding

Over the years, I've come to realize that one of the principles of working or moving livestock is that I must move slowly to go fast.  Every time I get in a hurry to get something done - loading sheep in the trailer or moving sheep through the corrals, for example - the job takes much longer than it would if I had the proper patience.  When I'm quiet, my dogs are quiet as well - and the job goes quickly.

This principle, I think, is especially applicable at lambing time.  There is an art to lambing in a pasture (or really to any lambing system) that can only be learned by experience.  Moving slowly - both in a physical sense and from the standpoint of watching and waiting - is critical during lambing season.  A couple of examples:

Yesterday, we moved the entire flock onto new pasture.  A handful of 2-3 day-old lambs decided it would be great fun to stay back in the old pasture.  Rather than try to catch them or chase them, I worked with Mo to quie…